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BOOKS > Dead in the Water

The following unsolicited reviews have all appeared on Amazon.

To check these, and more recent reviews, click here for Amazon Dead in the Water reviews pages.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Make a film of this now!

This is the most exciting and relevant book that I have read in a long time. The excitement comes from being trapped inside the multi-national/political conspiracy. The relevance comes from the truthfulness of the context that both the impending ecological disaster and the destruction of the rain-forest bring. The characters are fully human - riddled with contradictions and internal tensions. The action at times is viscerally harrowing. The drive towards the denouement is hypnotically pulsating as the strands of the narrative tighten in on one another. As I closed the book, I was both deeply satisfied at the resolution and frustrated. But my frustration lies with the world that Woolland captures so authentically not with his portrayal of it. There is an awful inevitability about our destination but that is what makes this such a significant work - our world is being revealed for us not as we would like it to be but as it is. This is the geo-political thriller at its best because it is so real. This is science fiction at its most chilling because it feels like tomorrow. I dare the film industry to take this on and force all politicians of every persuasion to watch it. You won't get a better read this year, whatever your tastes.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Seeing events as we might

This review does give away a few plot elements, so if you don't want to know about them, read no further!

I am not a reader of thrillers. Although I was recommended this book, I hardly expected to enjoy it very much. In fact, I couldn't put it down. It impressively weaves together very different worlds - the public and private, the political and personal, the worlds of London government and of Amazonian indigenious people; it does so effortlessly and entirely credibly.

The action is relentless but always to the point - we never feel we are being given a new threat or a new twist for no good reason, or without it leading anywhere. But while we might have some idea of what is going on, we are never quite sure, right to the end. Danger and suspense are always present.

The tremendously clever plot involves terrorism and attitudes towards it, environmentalism and attitudes towards that and, most importantly, the question of how government really works. Mark Boyd, the central character, is at one point accused of being cynical. By the end - or perhaps well before that - we are certainly cynical too.

The real strength of the book, though, lies in the creation of Mark Boyd and the dilemmas he faces. How many of us were quite radical in our youth but then came to believe more and more in gradualism? - this is Mark's starting position, and many of us are surely there with him. But Boyd, now the Prime Minister's principal advisor on environmental matters, is well and truly used - by those who pose as gradualists - and then discarded, just as his daughter's appalling footage of a village massacre in Venezuela (for the oil, of course) is also discarded, never seeing the light of day. We think the challenge is to get that footage from the jungle to Britain and to the BBC; in fact the greater challenge turns out to lie one stage further - getting it screened.

This novel explores manipulation. But we never feel manipulated; rather, we feel we have been let in on some rather horrible truths about how the world functions - truths which in the long term may well threaten our planet, not in a novel, but in the real world.

5.0 out of 5 stars
If you want a really good read...

I loved this book. Brilliant, I said as I reluctantly read the last sentence. It is so difficult to find a book you keep wanting to get back to but this has it. It is also very well written, full of suspense, excellently researched and this from somebody who doesn't read thrillers.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Action packed thriller

I couldn't put this book down - it's pace and energy whisk you through a world of environmentalism versus corporate business, political rhetoric versus truth and integrity versus moral corruption. The beautifully seen characters lead you into a dark world where nothing is quite what it seems, with the climate already crumbling and where environmentalism is aligned with terrorism. Brian Woolland has created a contemporary yet future vision of what might be (or are we there already?) with a tale that twists and turns at every chapter. As with all good novels, it ended way before I wanted it to, and the characters and storyline are still in my head. More please.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Excellent page-turner

Brian Woolland's novel is a fast-paced page-turner which I couldn't put down. The action switches between London and the rainforest in short chapters (which also make it perfect for reading on public transport), but the carefully drawn characters mean that a reader never has to work too hard to get 'back into' a location. All of the hard work has been done by the author to create an intriguing, exciting vision of the world, laced with an exhilarating whiff of paranoia.
An excellent read. I can't wait for his next novel.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Intelligent page turner
Midnight Oil (Hampshire) (U.K.)

Discovered this through word of mouth and it certainly is a book worth reading. It is skilfully plotted, well-paced and adeptly written. An intelligent evocation of a near future, in which the effects of climate change are beginning to bite. Alternating between London and Venezuela, this is a clever, entertaining story of intrigue, which weaves together the lives of several well-drawn protagonists and interrogates governmental agencies and their capabilities. If you want an exciting, engaging and ultimately intelligent tale, then give this a try. I doubt you will be disappointed.
I await his next work with huge anticipation.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Dead in the Water? Not this cracking debut novel!
Mike James

The opening of this thriller is truly shocking. A murderous unprovoked attack on a Venezuelan rainforest village, observed and filmed by a young Rachel Boyd in a stunned reportage style lending even greater veracity and impact to the outrage. The narrative never flags, moving between the rainforest, Caracas, London and Oxford, a coalition Government, intelligence organisations, big business, eco-terrorists and globally warmed freak British weather.
Throughout, the reader has the uneasy feeling that he is not being let in on everything, only what others want him to know - its the real world! Brian Woolland has produced a rattling good thriller but at no time does he sacrifice character for the sake of plot. The main protagonists, the idealistic Rachel, her father Mark, the environmental radical-turned-government advisor, the emotionally confused Jeremy, have the ring of truth - no superheroes here - flawed, uncertain of themselves, their motives and their relationships. The strength of the book is in this very uncertainty. The reader is caught up in the plot twists and turns along with the main characters - who do you believe? Anybody? Nobody? This is a very modern novel - not wrapped neatly with explanatory bows. It challenges you to deal with its (and our) uncertain and mendacious world. I had the pleasure of reading this novel "back to back" with William Boyd's Ordinary Thunderstorms, another thriller by one of the very best British writers of the last thirty years. It speaks volumes for Woolland that Dead in the Water stands comparison with Thunderstorms and (speak it softly) in some respects outdoes Boyd particularly in its absence of "contrivance" to chivvy the plot along. A truly remarkable achievement in a first novel.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Dead in the Water by Brian Woolland

Dead in the Water is a fast paced, modern - almost futuristic - political, ecological (without being preachy) and in some ways psychological thriller. It tells the story of Mark Boyd - ex-environmental activist turned government advisor - and his daughter, Rachel.
While working in the Venezuelan rainforest, Rachel witnesses and films the massacre of an entire village. She escapes into the jungle, carrying with her the footage. But the powers behind the massacre know she has survived. They also know who her father is and what it would mean to their plans if he were to acquire that footage.
Meanwhile in London, there has been a bombing. An unknown environmental group has claimed responsibility. Rachel`s father, Mark is in the thick of it, not just politically - as an advisor to the PM - but also on a personal level, and with his own suspicions of who is responsible.
Of course the two incidents are linked.
Mark and Rachel find themselves at the centre of a conspiracy that threatens much more than their own safety. Rachel needs to reach London, and Mark needs to know, who - if anyone - he can trust before the bombers strike again.
I really like this book. It is very well written with a great plot and plenty of action. The prose is elegant and easy, and the settings put you right in there. Brian Woolland`s writing style reminds me a little of Robert Harris, though the perpetual rain in his globally warmed London, and the downbeat internal dialogue of his protagonist, Mark Boyd are also reminiscent of the cult Sc-fi classic Bladerunner.
Great Read. I look forward to his next title.

5.0 out of 5 stars
What if?

Brian Woolland has written a prescient thriller set in the (perhaps) not too far distant future.
At one point one of the protagonists speaks of "Narrative enigma," adding that "withholding information is as important as releasing it" and the delight in the reading of this novel lies in the exercise of just that skill by Brian Woolland who leads the reader apace between apparently straightforward descriptions of events and the shadowy hinterlands of intrigue, mysterious encounters, and deception.

In the run up to an international summit on climate change, the action moves between a post-Chavez Venezuela and an England under a coalition government run by an astute female Prime Minister.
As Mark Boyd, special adviser to the Prime Minister, struggles to make sense of unfolding public events which not only endanger his position but also threaten to engulf his family, the reader is left trying to identify the real villains of the piece.

The dramatic thrust of this novel will keep you guessing to the end, but it's real strength lies in leaving a question firmly planted: "What if this really is how things work?"

5.0 out of 5 stars
A gripping and vivid read
E. Taylor "dramatically speaking" (UK)

I LOVED this book. I've had to ration it as I really didn't want to finish it.

The short chapters build suspense as it flips between inter-twining stories. The writing is succinct and yet really vivid. The characters are believable and you find yourself genuinely concerned for them.

This would make a great Christmas present as it appeals to a range of readers, from those interested in conspiracy thrillers to those who love a good page turner but have little time to read.

I can't wait to read more of the author's work.
5.0 out of 5 stars
Dead Good

Just finished Dead in the Water by Brian Woolland. Great. A real page turner. A sophisticated thriller that kept me guessing even after I had finished it. Who are the real villains in this right up to the minute (in fact in a worryingly convincing near future) story about the impending climate disaster?

5.0 out of 5 stars
A Cracking Good Read!!!
This review is from: DEAD in the WATER (Paperback)

I am an inveterate reader of thrillers and detective fiction. However I am increasingly becoming frustrated by the formulaic nature of some of the writing in these genres. Additionally there is sometimes a lack a lack of credibility in terms of keeping at least a part of the reader's reality rooted in a particular narrative structure. Dead in the Water meets all my criteria for believability, pace and edge-of-the-seat tension. This is a novel with an elegantly structured plot with sub-plots interwoven into a fast-paced story, laced with characters facing difficult decisions and dilemmas. Most striking for me and indeed believable is the ecological activist turned politician whose involvement with politics, (a coalition government - how prescient), transforms his ideals into compromise at best and a looming sense of selling out at worst. Central to this character's political dilemmas and the engine which powers the contradictions at the centre of his existence are relationships and family politics, which complicate his life and which rapidly escalate into a series of desperate measures in order to avoid catastrophe. This is the first thriller which I have read for while which gave me sleepless nights as I was reluctant to put it down. Dead in the Water is a wonderfully well-written book with detail which adds complexity and depth to a subject which should be at the centre of all our politics if life as we know it is to have any chance of survival. I think this is a fantastic debut novel. I sincerely hope the author writes more in the style of this book as the genre benefits from this kind of intelligent deconstruction of issues into a great story without becoming didactic or long-winded. Indeed the novel feels quite short and so a sequel would indeed be welcome perhaps re-visiting some of the main characters, events and issues some time after the `explosive' ending of the book.

5.0 out of 5 stars
More from where that came from please!

Gripping from start to finish. This is the sort of book that compels you to read more.A pertinent plot for the current political climate and concerningly feasible.

5.0 out of 5 stars
A Great Read
B. Robinson

Gripped from the very beginning, I found Dead in The Water very difficult to put it down once I'd started reading it. The characters and story is compelling. A thoroughly good read. I can highly recommend it to anyone.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Gripping and provocative

Having been bitterly disappointed by other so called `environmental thrillers' (including recent offerings by William Boyd and Ian McEwan), I was initially a little wary of this. Had it not been strongly recommended by a friend, I doubt I would have read it. I am very pleased that I did. I have rarely been so quickly caught up in a first novel. It is set in the near future; but this wholly believable world, populated by engaging, complex characters is not so much science fiction as NOW fiction. There is nothing preachy or worthy about it; but it is frighteningly prescient.

There is, however, something a bit strange about this book. It appears to be by a first time novelist (although there is nothing about the author in the back cover blurb for the book); but it is so well written, so confident in its handling and interweaving of the multiple plot strands, that I couldn't help wondering whether the author has written other novels and published them under a pseudonym.

Such speculation aside, I cannot recommend it too highly.



Copyright Brian Woolland. Last updated May 8th 2013 |

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